Those who watched the synchronized diving events at the Olympics were treated to a spectacle of precision, practice, and communication. And according to Joker Phillips’ comments after Kentucky football’s most recent practice, watching the Wildcats offensive line might look very much the same when the season starts in a couple weeks. Synchronicity is his goal. He even took the team to the pool earlier this week, giving them a chance to practice their communication and precision on the diving boards. The big guys up front might not have a shot in the Olympics, but they are building the chemistry they need to thrive this season.
“You guys saw the synchronized diving? Our guys were trying to do that yesterday,” Phillips said. “That’s the way you have to be up front. That’s the way your offensive line has to be. They have to be in sync. They have to be on the same page. You have to communicate. And that’s the reason why you have to stay healthy. You can’t have one guy miss a practice, then the next guy miss another. We have to be in sync.”
Kentucky was plagued by preseason injuries during last year’s fall camp, and keeping the line healthy this year has been a point of focus for Phillips. When guys are out for injury and don’t have chances to build chemistry on the line, communication is forced, reaction times and instincts are dulled, and recovering from small mistakes becomes impossible. Injuries are sparse at the moment. Freshman Zach Meyer has a high-ankle sprain and won’t be back for a few weeks, but the core is still strong aside from the typical bumps and bruises.
But even a healthy line this year might need more synchronicity than usual. Kentucky is particularly limited when it comes to veteran linemen, and will be relying on freshmen and sophomores if they expect to go deep into the rotation as the rough season wears on. The line could take many shapes and sizes, including guys totally new to game-time communication alongside hardened veterans. If the diverse Wildcats can’t form some bonds on the line and take the plunge together, there’s no telling what hell will await their as-yet-undecided quarterback.
“Those guys gotta be on the same page,” Joker added. “You’ve got to be able to communicate with the guy beside you.”
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.